feel like I should get this out of the way at the start: I’m not writing this
because I just discovered I’m living in a simulated town. In fact, I’ve known
since I was about 12 years old.
A bit of
backstory before I get into my problem: My town is named Truman (exactly
like the movie, I’ll get into that later) and, well, the whole place is fake.
Pretty sure it’s all computer generated, so wherever my brain really is,
it’s probably jacked into an environmental simulator sophisticated enough to
trick my senses. Everything looks and sounds real, even compared to actual
cities which I’ve only recently been able to research on the Internet. Food
tastes real, I think; I’ve never been anywhere outside of Truman so I have no
frame of reference, but it certainly looks like pictures and videos of real
food that I’ve seen.
The town itself is about 20 km from one end to the other
and everything is built on what a circular island surrounded by endless oceans.
No airport, no ships ever coming or going, so basically no way to leave the
island. Standard fake town stuff, I think.
I said, I didn’t realize how weird all this was until I was 12. I was on my
computer late one night, doing some research on the “Internet,” which was
pretty much a joke. You know North Korea? Imagine their Internet access with
about 50% fewer pages. Yeah, not a great amount of detail about the outside
world. But then that night, I remember my computer monitor flickering
violently, the system powered down for short time, and when it came back on,
bam! Real internet access. Real news from the real planet Earth. It took a long
night of clicking around and reading articles for me to put the pieces together
and finally come to the obvious conclusion: There is no town called Truman (I
mean, there are a bunch of them, but not mine).
you know what? I honestly didn’t care. II spent a long time researching other cities and
found they also had pizza restaurants and movie theaters and stuff, and really
that’s all my twelve year old self cared about. I wasn’t missing anything. But
a lot of those cities also had violent crime, poverty, drugs, and a ton of
other bad things that really freaked me out as a kid. Truman didn’t have any of
that, so I just kinda kept it to myself.
is, I’m pretty sure it was supposed to
bother me. I mean, I think the whole point of why I’m here was so that I would
eventually figure it out and react in some way. The next morning, my parents
asked me if I had finished all my homework, and I just said, “Yup!” and showed
them the report I had written about tigers or whatever. They both stopped and
stared at me, like they were taken aback.
My dad said, “Yeah? You didn’t find
anything else? You were on the computer all night.”
My mom said, “Yeah, you didn’t
find anything unusual? Something you want to talk about?”
I said, “Nah, just
tiger stuff. What’s for breakfast?” and after a few seconds of silence, they
both went back to normal and made me some pancakes. It never came up again.
On top of
all that, and I don’t know if I’ve made this clear yet, but this town is
a really crappy
virtual environment. If the goal was to have me believe it was a real place for
a long time, someone seriously dropped the ball. I recently discovered “Rick
and Morty,” and you know that episode where the alien scammers put Rick into
the simulation? I’m talking that level of incompetence. To start with, they
named the town Truman, for
Christ’s sake. Go on Google and type in “Truman fake town” and literally the
first result is the movie about Jim Carrey living in a fake town.
as if that wasn’t obvious enough, there’s the whole “endless ocean” nonsense.
I’ve mentioned before that, unlike “The Truman Show,” this town isn’t a set.
The people in it aren’t actors pretending to be ordinary citizens living here.
This whole place is computer generated, which means they could easily have just
simulated a planet with no easily perceivable boundary. They would just have to
render new environments as I walk through them, which would be much harder to
detect. Instead: endless oceans!
I think the whole “Internet glitch thing” was supposed to be my big tip-off
that things weren’t right, and that was supposed to spark me into some kind of,
I don’t know, freakout? Anger? Terror? Insanity? I don’t know what the goal was
but I’m fairly sure they (whoever they are) didn’t expect me to just say, “Meh,
whatever,” and roll with it for this long. They’ve tried to get to me a lot
throughout my childhood, but I just kept refusing to engage. I was walking
along the coastline at the edge of town one time, and a mysterious-looking man
approached me and said, “Did you ever notice how no boats or planes ever leave
from here?” and I just said, “Nope!” and kept going.
I’ve received dozens of
cryptic emails, all along the same vein: “Something’s not right in Truman,” “We
are all in terrible danger,” “This is all a lie,” “WAKE UP! YOU HAVE TO WAKE
UP!” and I ignored them all. Things always went back to normal after a while
I started dating a girl when I was 16 (she was also fake, as is
everyone else here, but I didn’t care because, well, I was 16) and one night
she called me around 1 a.m., saying, “Nathan, they’re coming! Oh my god,
they’re coming for you! You have to get out of Truman! GET OUT-” and then the
line went dead. She was gone for a couple months and then just showed up back
at school. We went out a few more times after that.
prompts stopped around the time I turned 18. For a few years after that, things
were more or less normal. I’m a pretty simple person, I guess, and I never had
any reason to rock the boat. I had my fake family, my fake friends, lots of
fake fun stuff to do and, since they never bothered to program a fake college
into Truman, I no longer had to go to school. For a while I tried to get a fake
job, but that didn’t pan out. Every manager at every store gave me the same
response when I asked: a few seconds of dead silence, followed by, “I’m sorry,
but that is unavailable at this time.” It didn’t matter though, because my parents
continued giving me money every week and never asked me to move out. In short,
I was content.
here’s why I’m finally talking about this after all this time: I really don’t
think the simulation was intended to run this long. In fact, I’m not sure anyone
is even still monitoring what’s going on in here. A few weeks after I turned
22, I noticed the first glitch at a park near my house. A few men were playing
a game of checkers on a table near a tree, but one of them didn’t have a chair.
He was sitting, but there was nothing underneath him but air. I blinked a few
times at this and then the chair was there. I was so used to my virtual
environment by this time that I didn’t think, “Weird, must be a trick of the
light.” I thought, “Ha! A glitch. Boy this place sucks.”
glitches were actually pretty amusing at first. There would be people at cafes
drinking hot cups of coffee but there would be no cup, just a sloshing pile of
coffee in their bare hands. Sometimes I’d go into rooms and it would take a few
seconds for the colour and texture of the walls to appear. Or a delivery person
would come to the house, hand an invisible package to my mom or dad, and they
would proceed into the living room and unwrap what looked like thin air for a
minute. Other times random objects would appear in places they shouldn’t be.
People would stomp around in boxes instead of shoes. I saw a guy writing notes
in a journal, but he was using what looked like a narrow tube of toothpaste. I
saw a teenage girl take what I think was supposed to be a phone out of her
purse, but instead it was just a very large human tongue which she put up to
her ear and began talking into. As the glitches began to increase in frequency,
it became more and more difficult to interact with my environment. Once, I was
stung five times by bees I couldn’t see because apparently I had walked through
a flower patch that I also couldn’t see.
people started glitching as well, I became a little more concerned. I went out
for a walk one afternoon and noticed there was a person walking about twenty
meters ahead of me, but no matter what I did, he was always at the same
distance. He never changed his walking pace, even when I ran as fast as I could
or stood completely still. He still appeared to be walking at the same rate,
but always at exactly the same 20 meter distance. I would turn a corner, and
there he was, 20 meters away.
Every now and then I would see people driving
past in a car and none of them will have faces, just blank spaces above their
necks. Sometimes people would arrive at a building, but instead of going
inside, they would just walk straight up the side of the building towards the
roof. When they reached the top, they would keep walking directly up into the
sky until they were no longer visible. Or you know that white-noise buzz of
many people talking in a crowd? That disappeared a while ago. Now they all just
chant the same thing at the same time: “CHAT LOG UNAVAILABLE AT THIS TIME. CHAT
LOG UNAVAILABLE AT THIS TIME.” Over and over again.
time, I stopped being able to interact with anybody. When I talked to people,
their responses were either unintelligible sounds or there would be no sound at
all. I tried to get a coffee the other day and the barista looked at me for a
moment and then began laughing. Really loud, hysterical laughing, all while
looking me directly in the eyes, until eventually I just left. Getting
something as simple as food has become a major challenge. Things are so buggy
that most of the time I either don’t know what I’m getting or can’t find
someone who will sell it to me. I’ve tried to eat more than a few totally
ordinary objects because I was sure they were supposed to be food.
I caved. I went to talk to my parents one morning to finally tell them I just
noticed something unusual was happening in Truman. Dad was sunk up to his waist
in the floor and was saying, “Hi there, how are you?” over and over again to
the closed front door. I went to find mom instead. She was sitting on the couch
reading a book with blank pages but otherwise looked normal.
Can I talk to you for a second?” She turned her head almost 180 degrees around
to look at me without moving her body. “I, uh, I was looking on the Internet
last night, and I think something’s wrong.” Her expression didn’t change. She
“I mean, I think Truman might not be a real town. I think
this town is fake.” She stared. “So, I mean, I’m pretty freaked out about
this, so, what do you think I should do?” She stared. She opened her mouth to
say something, seemed to change her mind, and swiveled her head back to
continue “reading.” Nothing changed.
need to get of here. I’ve tried talking to other people, and exactly the same
thing happens. I’ve been all over town, trying to find some other way to trigger
whatever is supposed to end this simulation, but the prompts stopped so long
ago that I’m worried it might be too late. Meanwhile, this town is continuing
to fall apart at an alarming rate. The endless ocean is now just an untextured
white void at the edge of town. Many buildings have turned into large
rectangular boxes with no features.
The sun doesn’t even move anymore, it just
hangs directly above the town, and the air is starting to get uncomfortably
hot. I don’t know if I have a body somewhere out there in the world but if I
do, I don’t know how much more time it has or what will happen if it dies.
I’m running out of options here.
Please, if you have any ideas, please help me.